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The Spectacular Long-Lost Ancient Greek City of Thouria

Thouria. Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture

The ancient Greek city of Thouria, located in the southern Peloponnese, thrived throughout antiquity.

Thouria is among the few cities which managed to thrive and become important independent centers in the wider region despite being under the shadow of nearby super-powers (in this case Sparta).

Despite its successes, and although it was mentioned frequently in ancient texts, the remains of Thouria were only discovered in the first decade of the 21th century.

Located on the outskirts of the modern-day city of Kalamata in the county of Messenia, Thouria was at its peak of development during the classical period of ancient Greece.

Archaeologists discovered Thouria in 2007

The orchestra of the ancient theater in Thouria. Photo credit: Greek Culture Ministry

Incredibly, however, the existence of its ancient ruins was unknown until very recently when an archaeological dig in 2007 led experts to the discovery of an entire city which appeared to have been an important hub during ancient times.

Archaeologists originally unearthed a temple and an Asclepeion, a type of temple devoted to healing found throughout the ancient Greek world.

During recent digs, archaeologists unearthed a large part of the ancient theater of the city of Thouria, adding much more information to what we already known about this polis.

The theater, which dates back to the 4th century BC, was unearthed during these recent excavations which took place in the summer of 2016.

More discoveries were on tap for the archaeological dig season of 2017 when archaeologists uncovered the perimeter of the theater’s orchestra and several rows of stone seats.

The orchestra’s perimeter, which is 16.3 meters (53 feet) long, has three parallel grooves around it which suggest that its stage was movable.

The city was mentioned extensively in ancient texts

The city of Thouria on a French map showing the region of the southern Peloponnese in ancient times. Photo credit: Marsyas/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

The city of Thouria was mentioned by both Pausanias and Strabo, two of ancient Greece’s most famous geographers.

Thouria’s ancient theater is oriented toward the west, overlooking the vast plains of Messenia, known in ancient times as “Makaria,” meaning the “blessed and blissful land.”

In the distance, to the southwest, one sees the beautiful sea of the Messenian Gulf. The ancient people of these lands were once called “Thouriates,” most likely referring to the city of Thouria.

Archaeological works continue to this day in Thouria where archaeological students from around the world come to practice their profession and learn more about their science and this most important ancient Greek region.

A village bearing the name of Thouria with a population of approximately 3,000 people exists to this very day near the ancient ruins.

It is a village that links together thousands of years of Greek history in this beautiful southern corner of Greece.

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